Chris Ashton

week11y issue 58

Your weekly frequent11y newsletter, brought to you by @ChrisBAshton:

State-Switch Controls: The Infamous Case of the “Mute” Button

  • An article exploring the design of ‘mute’ buttons on the iPhone ‘call’ screen, on Zoom, and on WebEx. Two of the three use fill colour alone to denote state: the universal microphone icon has a dash through it, regardless of what state you’re in, making it difficult to know whether your microphone is currently muted. Zoom is the one that gets it right, as it removes the dash from the microphone when your mic is active, and has a label on the button to indicate what will happen when you press it.
  • Aside: I still struggle with Zoom’s implementation, and have yet to find one that doesn’t confuse! Perhaps the best I’ve seen is Google Hangouts’ version, but that could just be down to familiarity as I use it every day.

WordPress adds support for video captions and subtitles

  • WordPress v5.6 “Simone” introduces WebVTT support for its videos. This is a big deal considering WordPress powers around 4 out of 10 websites. It means you can upload .vtt files containing subtitles, to enable closed captions on the video. The article gives a nice example of a VTT file, which is just text formatted in a particular way.
  • Many WordPress hosting providers aren’t actually well suited for streaming videos, so the author Jon Henshaw recommends uploading the video itself to a CDN, even if you self-host the VTT file.

The lang attribute: browsers telling lies, telling sweet little lies

  • Manuel Matuzović shares some useful CSS that can alert you to a missing, empty or incorrect page-level lang attribute. For example:
  • html:not([lang]) { border: 10px dotted red; }
  • Manuel explains why setting the right value is important for screen reader support, as well things like auto translate.
  • There’s an interesting section on quotation marks, highlighting the difference in style between English, German and French quotation mark notation. I wasn’t aware they were different!

Interaction Media Features and Their Potential (for Incorrect Assumptions)

  • A really interesting CSS-Tricks article by Patrick Lauke, exploring the Media Queries Level 4 Interaction Media Features.
  • In theory, they enable the detection of things like if the user is using a mouse or a touch screen (@media (pointer: fine|coarse) {), which you could use to decide whether to make buttons and touch targets bigger. It also exposes hover support: @media (hover: hover|none).
  • In practice, these queries only expose what the browser thinks is the primary input. The user may have a mouse but choose to use their touch screen, or may have an iPhone but primarily navigate via a Bluetooth linked keyboard.
  • There is another set of media queries that report on all available inputs: any-pointer and any-hover. If any of the inputs has hover support, for example, then any-hover: hover will be matched.
  • We can combine queries for educated guesses. @media (pointer: coarse) and (any-pointer: fine) suggests the primary input is touchscreen, but that there is a mouse or stylus present.
  • We risk breaking the user experience by optimising for the wrong input type. We should follow a progressive enhancement approach, e.g. always listen to mouse/keyboard events but also listen for touchstart events if a coarse pointer is detected. Another option is to provide users an explicit choice of ‘Mouse’ vs ‘Touch’.

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